Skip to main content

NCCIH Research Blog

Have Student Loans? Apply for NIH Loan Repayment September 1–November 16, 2023!

July 7, 2023

 Jenny Baumgartner

Jennifer Baumgartner, Ph.D.

Program Director in the Clinical Research Branch, Division of Extramural Research

Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

Student loan debt is a common barrier for health professionals starting and sustaining a biomedical or biobehavioral research career. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) are a set of programs established by Congress and designed to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. These programs may repay up to $100,000 of qualified student loan debt for a 2-year award to those committed to a career in biomedical research. The goal of these incredible and potentially life-changing programs is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals in research careers by lessening the burden of student loans. 

About 50 percent of LRP applications are funded each year and the mean award is $57,582. Many researchers have had all their student loan debt repaid by the NIH LRPs (over several awards). An interactive dashboard provides a snapshot of awards that have been distributed since Fiscal Year 2013.  

Want to know more? 


  • Program Goal: Encourage outstanding health professionals to pursue and maintain careers in biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research. Since tomorrow's medical breakthroughs will be made by investigators starting in their research careers today, the LRPs represent an important investment by NIH in the future of health discovery and the well-being of the Nation.
  • Eligibility: Citizenship, qualified educational debt (greater than 20 percent of base salary), and biomedical doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D.) including clinical doctoral degrees, or doctoral degree in a complementary health practice (e.g., Ph.D., N.D., D.A.O.M., D.C., D.O., D.N.P.), or both.
  • Duration/Commitment: Up to 2 years.
  • Support: NIH may repay up to $50,000 of your qualified student loan debt per year, including most undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans. Loan repayment benefits are in addition to the institutional salary you receive for your research.

Who Can Apply for NIH Loan Repayment?

  • To qualify, you need to have your terminal level degree, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have educational loan debt that is at least 20 percent of your annual income, and commit to conduct research for at least 20 hours per week (for the entirety of your LRP contract) at a domestic nonprofit, university, or government organization. Masters-level degrees or certifications, or individuals pursuing strictly clinical careers, are not eligible for the LRPs. 
  • There are six extramural NIH LRPs to choose from, depending on the focus of your research. All applicants will need an NIH eRA Commons ID to apply using the LRP online application (due November 16, 2023). If awarded, NIH will repay up to $50,000 annually in educational loans, along with most Federal taxes. You can continue to apply for competitive renewal LRPs (1- or 2-year contracts) until your debt is paid off.
  • Researchers who were not successful in getting funded are strongly encouraged to reapply. There is no limit on the number of times an individual can apply.

Does NCCIH Participate in the LRPs?

Yes! The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) participates in the following five LRPs:

Applicants who submit their LRP applications to NCCIH must have a research project aligned with NCCIH’s mission and priority areas, as described in our strategic plan.  

Helpful Resources To Get Started in Applying


For general LRP questions, call the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, or email them at You can also contact me at to discuss research priority areas for NCCIH.

Tags: Research TrainingNIH News


Comments are now closed for this post.